In a matter of hours, Panic Attack! became a web sensation, even catching a link on Kanye West's blog. Hollywood quickly took notice.
Fede Alvarez: "My email was on my YouTube account. The morning after Panic Attack! went online, I started getting all of these emails from Dreamworks, Universal, Warner Bros., and all of these agents saying they wanted to meet me. One week after that, somebody flew me to L.A.
"I landed in L.A., went to have coffee with a producer, and after that he was going to a screening of an unfinished version of Kick-Ass. The movie wasn't done yet. We saw it at Lionsgate's screening room. Once it was over I went outside and, on the street, I met Sam Raimi's partner Nathan Kahane [one of the new movie's producers]. We just started talking about movies, and he told me that Sam had seen Panic Attack!and loved it, and that we should work on something together. Later that afternoon, Sam called me on the phone and we talked for about two hours."
Rob Tapert: "Panic Attack! was an interesting short that he made for a low price, which is always impressive, and it was a short made to generate an audience response—it was a movie made to be watched and reacted to, and that's a great thing. You can't help but appreciate a director who's trying to please the audience. That was really the first thing that was the appeal. And then when you meet him, you get swept up and realize that this guy is very passionate about what he's doing. If you're going to be trapped with somebody for a year, Fede's not a bad person to be trapped with.
"He's a guy who loves going to watch movies, so he thinks like an audience member, but an intelligent one. Fede comes from a slightly different culture; I call it the 'cafe culture,' where you sit down to analyze and discuss a movie, right down to the smallest point. If you were to sit down with Fede for three hours with some coffees, he'd be able to tell you why everything in our original Evil Dead makes sense, even though I've seen it 100 times and some things, I know, are just there to look cool, but he'll tell you why they actually make sense."
Fede Alvarez: "Out of the first meeting with Sam and Rob, we signed a blind deal to make a movie together. That's why I ended up working with him, because he was the only one who was going to give me complete freedom to do whatever I wanted. He's a producer but he's a filmmaker first, so if he produces somebody's movie, he wants that filmmaker to have total freedom.
"This was the beginning of 2010. That blind deal turned into the feature-length version of Panic Attack!. It was going to have the short's tone, but it wasn't going to have the same ideas. We hired a writer to work on that movie, and in the process, probably two months into the development, Sam asked me if I would do an Evil Dead movie for him. He'd been looking for filmmakers for a long time and he felt like I was the right guy. Panic Attack! is something I'm still developing. I'm hoping it can be my next movie."
Rob Tapert: "The script process on [Panic Attack!] was difficult. It was perhaps not the best pairing of writer and director. But everything happens for a reason. It wasn't going to get made ultimately because Skyline and Battle: Los Angeles, although very different movies than Panic Attack!, beat us into the theaters. So now is actually probably the right time for that movie. Fede now has the credibility to go off and write that with his partner and get paid to do it. That's the right thing to have happen, so that it's his filmmaker's vision, or if he hires a writer, the writer will now know that Fede has a voice that needs to be respected in the process."